ICSM Business News: concerns mount over the future of football league club after ’20-year-old tycoon’ puts in ownership bid – plus a long list of football clubs who have gone bust

The ownership of the League One team Morecambe FC is in doubt at present

ICSM Business News: concerns mount over the future of football league club after ’20-year-old tycoon’ puts in ownership bid – plus a long list of football clubs who have gone bust

By Harry Mottram: The collapse of the rugby union club Worcester Warriors has triggered problems for the League One football association side Morecambe FC. The owners of the rugby club Bond Group Investments are also owners of the Lancashire club known as ‘The Shrimps’, have put both clubs up for sale following the collapse of the rugby club last year.

The main concern for the supporters of Morecambe FC is the nature of the potential new owner Sarbjot Johal who hails from Birmingham. At only 20 years of age and branded as an entrepreneur by the media Johal founded a non-alcoholic drink called Vitanic and apparently has the cash to buy the club. However, supporters have reported on social media that the website for the Vitanic drink has only one page and the drink is out of stock.

Ian Carrotte of ICSM – the business credit intelligence membership group – said the Football Association had very clear rules on the eligibility of owners of football clubs. He said: “The FA have a set of tests that new owners must pass including their finances following a number of failures in the past. If Morcambe is to be bought, then the FA will investigate the deal to ensure the club can continue.”

The professional boxer Tyson Fury was linked to a potential bid for the club as he owns trainings facilities associated with the club but apparently has not put in an offer for the club – according to local media reports. Morecambe FC play their football in League One of the FA’s football structure – the third tier of the set up.

In the past there is a long list of football clubs that have gone bust and, in most cases, have done a phoenix and reformed – and in some cases dumping the debts that caused their demise. Ian Carrotte said suppliers to clubs must not get caught up with the emotional ties to a club allowing their support for the team clouding judgement when it comes to granting credit. By their nature clubs are supplied from a huge range of firms who can get stunk if the business hits the rocks.

Those with long memories will recall how Accrington Stanley folded in the 1960s – although the club was eventually reborn. These are some of the clubs in England and Wales that have gone bust in the past and then returned after being reconstructed:

Bradford City in 1983, Charlton Athletic in 1984, Middlesborough in 1986, Tranmere Rovers in 1987 and Newport County in 1989. In the 1990s Walsall, Northampton Town, Kettering, Aldershot, Maidstone, Hartlepool, Barnet, Exeter, Gillingham Doncaster, Millwall, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Chester and Portsmouth all entered administration or applied for a CVA to survive – in this century Hull, QPR, Bury, Halifax, Bradford, Notts County, Barnsley, Leicester, Port Vale, York, Derby County, Ipswich, Wimbledon, Oldham, Darlington, Bradford City (again), Wrexham, Cambridge, Rotherham, Crawley, Boston, Leeds, Luton, Bournemouth, Rotherham, Halifax, Darlington, Southampton, Stockport, Chester, Northwich Victoria, Farsley Celtic, Salisbury, Weymouth, Crystal Palace (again), Portsmouth, Plymouth, Rushden and Diamonds, Darlington(again), Portsmouth (again), Port Vale (again), Aldershot (again), Bolton, Bury, Rhyl, Wigan, Bury (again) and Derby County (again).

In Scotland the same situation saw these clubs also hit the rocks in this century: Queen’s Park, Greenock, Clydebank, Airdrieonians, Motherwell, Dundee, Livingston, Gretna, Livingston (again), Dundee (again), Rangers, Dunfermline and Hearts.

Glasgow Rangers hit the rocks in 2012 when the club went into administration when debts hit £168.9 million pounds. More than half of the debt was to the taxman – but the list of unsecured creditors included the corner shop by the Ibrox ground (£567.45), a face painter called Susan Thomson (£40), the police £51,882 and the ambulance service £8,438. And they also owed other football clubs a total of £3.3 million pounds – a shocking list of creditors.

Ian Carrotte again stressed suppliers to be especially cautious when granting credit to sports clubs as they so often trade off the notion they can never go bust. The opposite is true when you look at the list of insolvencies.


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ICSM, The Exchange, Express Park, Bristol Road, Bridgwater, Somerset TA6 4RR. Tel: 0844 854 1850. www.icsmcredit.comIan.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

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